eReaders in our School Library: Just a Fantasy?

Two or three times a year the library managers in our district have a chance to get together on professional development days. For the past 2 years we have been rotating our meetings throughout the thirteen schools. On Thursday I happily drove the 130 kilometres (81 miles) round-trip to the Neerlandia and Barrhead libraries in the very centre of our district (map). It is always inspiring to visit other libraries and talk with people facing similar joys and challenges.

Our hosts arranged for Jocie Wilson, our regional library (YRL) representative, to give us presentations on read-alouds for Christmas, which I will show in a separate post, and on how we are going to use eReaders in our library.

To commemorate their 45th anniversary, YRL recently gave each of our libraries a Kobo Vox. We were all thrilled to receive them, excited but completely in the dark about how our school libraries can offer them as a service to our students and staff despite having considered many factors as described previously in another post.

How we might use eReaders in our school libraries

  • Many copyright-free books are available; the eReader could be used to house up to 2000 books that otherwise would not be purchased by the library.
  • eReader could be used by the Resource teachers for one-on-one reading with struggling and reluctant readers
  • As best sellers can be available for purchase on same day the print book is released, the readers would be a great draw for teens who are eagerly awaiting a particular title.

Jocie went through the set-up and elaborated on the benefits and challenges, which seem to be steadily mounting, possibly precluding their use in our district  for the time being.

Challenges to eReader service in our school libraries

  • Administrative access to school computers is required to download and manage Kobo Desktop (KD) and Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) software and the frequent updates. Most of our library staff do not have these privileges.
  • eBook loans on Overdrive are licensed for personal use only, precluding legal lending to students
  • Publishers have learned from the music world and are going to great lengths to use eBooks to recover their struggling industry. Harper Collins has authorized eBook purchases of their books for 26 reads only and now Penguin has suspended eBook sales to Overdrive customers until they finalize a similar policy. Other publishers are likely to follow suit.*
  • New eBooks do not cost any less than their print counterparts despite the lack of printing costs.
  • School credit cards are not available, making eBook purchases awkward, best done with gift certificates purchased through Kobo, Chapters/Indigo etc.
  • Individual eBooks have to be purchased for each Reader. There has been talk of loading class sets of eReaders with all possible textbooks and novel studies for that grade, but if an eReader is lost or destroyed, every purchased book that was on it is gone.
  • Wireless on readers has to be locked to prevent borrowers from resetting
  • A single account can be held on up to 5 computers
  • Each eReader requires its own account on KD and ADE
  • …and niggling a bit…the ADE application is a bit glitchy

So what are we to do now?

I am luckily to have admin access to my computers, so I set up the Kobo the day I received it. I have loaded free books and read a few, familiarizing myself with using it. I like the dictionary, highlighting and notes features and can see value for students. I’m planning on loading it up with free books for now and casually scoping out potential uses. I’ll have it in the library and perhaps offer it to students who are not settling during their class silent reading time.

At the least, it might keep them busy browsing the Kobo library.

Hopefully we will all be able to do this now after the IT people get them all set up. Then we’ll just have to hang tight until we figure out whether there might be some way we can pool our resources and work out solutions to the above challenges.

eReaders are a reality. They cannot continue to be just fantasy for our school libraries forever.

* For a great article on publishers and libraries see “9 Reasons Publishers Should Stop Acting Like Libraries Are The Enemy and Start Thanking Them” by Bobbi Newman.


Addendum:  January 15, 2012 As demand for e-books soars, libraries struggle to stock their virtual shelves, Washington Post. Thanks to Stan for this link.


Filed under eReaders in the School Library, Rethinking My Library, Technology

3 responses to “eReaders in our School Library: Just a Fantasy?

  1. Pingback: eReaders in our School Library: Just a Fantasy? | Going Beyond ... | School Library Advocacy |

    • Thank you, Stan. That’s a good comprehensive article. I have appended it to the post and will be using it as reference as this issue continues. School libraries face even further challenges with funding and copyright. I just hope to see some progress and the ability to offer eBooks to my students within the next decade before I retire.

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